Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Cycle of Happiness...

... I think that is what Steve used to describe his life during the batting cage scene. He complained how his happy, upper class life trapped him, that it had to be destroyed. It is interesting then how Ben responds with such irritation and lack of enthusiasm. The first time watching "Better Luck Tomorrow" I was looking for a theme. Online reviews had praised how the film portrays Asian Americans in a gritty, exciting new light; the MTV trailer seemed dark and exciting. The first few moments, however, provided something that was too usual. Yes, the movie did capture the everyday life of Asian American students. But that was just it: they were students. Where was this exciting new light? Deep down, this movie was just another portrait of a model minority student trying to break out of his role.

Maybe I'm just jaded. By the time this film came out, I had already heard too many fellow asian students claim they wanted to break away from their parents' influences and desires for sucess. So "Better Luck Tomorrow" did not seem like anything new; even with the violence, the film essentially still equated asian american with academic sucess, this continual cycle of trying to achieve something in life. Watching it again, especially after the series of past films assigned, was an interesting experience. It was interesting in that there was nothing foreign about being Asian American. Heritage didn't play a role. The focus of the movie was almost singularly on the effects of being a model student who is fed up. This seemed to be a large contrast from "Flower Drum Song," in which the two cultures conspicuosly clashed and Wang Ta juggling this strange idea of being Asian and American all at once. Perhaps this suggests a radical change in the idea of being Asian American from the 50's to the new millenium. The Asian American student, at least according to "Better Luck Tomorrow," is not so disjointed a term; it fits seamlessly into the idea of being a disgruntled over-achiever.

**Not to go on a completely random tangent, but last year I think AZN Channel released some show depicting 4 Asian American students trying to get into their dream college. There might still be some clips shown on the website. Again, the show didn't really dig deeply into heritage and the role it plays in an Asian American students' life. Instead the connection between being Asian American and being a student resided in this need to get into an Ivy League college, as though one was not an Asian American student if s/he did not try to excel academically. And just like some of Virgil's complants, there was a clip of the show with one of the spoiled students continuously whining about how her parents were so hard on her.

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